evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited January 2013 in General Discussion
Comments on original thread, Who Earns the Title 'Channel Swimmer', had veered off-topic, so I split the off-topic comments into this new thread.

For an earlier, related thread see:
Channel Swimming Association versus Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation

Edit: I changed @evmo's title slightly. - Donal


  • HaydnHaydn Member
    edited January 2013
    And we have all seen a swimmer stating they are swimming the channel, in a swimming pool. But in this thread, wearing a wetsuit is not allowed by the Channel Swimming Association but is allowed by the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation.Both ratify successful swims as a Channel Swimmer. I prefer to be judged by the CSA and why I hope my swim in Sept can be ratified by the CSA because I want to swim the channel not cross it in any of the additional ways the CS&PF allow.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    I'm curious, given that an EC swim has to be done under the auspices of either the CSA or CS&PF, do they regularly allow swimmers to attempt swims with aids or wetsuits but just not record those as official crossings? Or was this an aberration?

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    Haydn wrote:
    But in this thread, wearing a wetsuit is not allowed by the Channel Swimming Association but is allowed by the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation.Both ratify successful swims as a Channel Swimmer. I prefer to be judged by the CSA and why I hope my swim in Sept can be ratified by the CSA because I want to swim the channel not cross it in any of the additional ways the CS&PF allow.

    Not sure what you're trying to imply here?
    The CS&PF are quite clear with their recording of swims and should not be faulted by the decision of certain people to not disclose the facts of their swim/crossing/whatever.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • It's obvious what we can do to retain the integrity. Stop using the CS&PF . Use the CSA for a traditional swim and the CS&PF for all other swims. We the swimmers, can choose, but I bet lots of us still choose the 'wrong' governing body . So, I have stated some reasons why I prefer the CSA, you may prefer the CS&PF. Maybe a new thread beckons to see the majority preferences?
  • I am saying simply that the CS&PF will ratify a channel crossing, anyway you choose. Wetsuit, fins, kayak, traditional swims. Even Rowing a bath tub. The CSA will only ratify a traditional swim.

    To me, a CSA channel swimmer leaves no doubt.
  • @dc_in_sf I am also curious on this... I'd love to know how many swimmers do the swim using aids. It seems that both federations are vague as we only see the successful crossings each year (which I think is fair given that no one wants their unsuccessful attempt plastered on the Internet)

    Based on what @Niek posted, we know that both do not recognise 'assisted' swims as official crossings, but do they both allow swims to continue if rules are clearly being broken? Or are going to be broken at the start?
  • HaydnHaydn Member
    edited January 2013
    Oooooh, I have just read Nieks post. I had no idea CSA ratified assisted swims.
  • @Haydn personally I have no issue if somebody rows across the Channel... I don't think rowing the channel has the same connotations as swimming the channel...for that sort of special club, I believe you'd need to row the Atlantic. ;)
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    edited January 2013

    Haydn wrote:
    I am saying simply that the CS&PF will ratify a channel crossing, anyway you choose. Wetsuit, fins, kayak, traditional swims. Even Rowing a bath tub. The CSA will only ratify a traditional swim.

    To me, a CSA channel swimmer leaves no doubt.

    Perhaps you should refer to the CS&PF list of successful SWIMS (which include CSA swims). If you still have doubts, perhaps it is your faith that is lacking.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • The CS&PF will not ratify a wetsuit swim as a full Channel swim. Some CS&PF pilots take non-standard crossings across the Channel, and those include wetsuit swims, rows, and other miscelaneous crossings...but the CS&PF will not say you made a standard crossing if you do it in a wetsuit.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    @Haydn If the CS&PF didn't allow wetsuit or assisted swims (but not ratify them as Channel Swims) then the Channel would shut to inspirational people like Philipe Croizon (who swam with a wetsuit. but without themore traditional assistance of, you know, arms and legs, he not having any).

    You completely misrepresent the CS&PF. They will take you across in your choice of crossing but they DO NOT RATIFY assisted swims as no Observer is provided for these swims. If someone does start a normal swim and stops or changes to wetsuit, there is NO ratification. You directly imply there is doubt over CS&PF swims. It's not the first time you've indirectly cast aspersions on the CS&PF as an organisation.

    My personal hero worship of CS&PF Secretary & King of the Channel Kevin Murphy and being a CS&PF swimmer myself aside, one of the reasons we should all value the CS&PF is precisely that it allows people to pursue their Channel dreams regardless of these constrictions. I personally don't feel I have to right to deny anyone their dreams.

    We all place a different value on different achievements. If it was left to the CSA, those dreams and achievements would remain unfulfilled and literally impossible.

    I might think of a Channel Swimmer as any of the 6 already in this thread at time of writing (I think I have the numbers right). But if I was sitting in a pub with Philipe, I wouldn't be saying "hey, you're not one of us". Nor would I compare him to Roz Hardiman. I can actually only vaguely begin to imagine what it took each of those two people (Dover regulars will know Roz) to achieve what they did. Who am I ( or anyone else) to tell Philipe he can't call himself a Channel swimmer but Roz can?


  • HaydnHaydn Member
    edited January 2013
    My feelings , but if a swimmer says they swam under CS&PF my next thought would be "what protocols"? If they are CSA swimmers, I have less doubt, particularly regarding whether wetsuits & fins were used.

    Also, wasn't the CS&PF once called The Channel Crossing Federation? Highlighting an early principle that they wanted to encourage alternative crossings and therefore increase the number of aspirants to include the new breed of wetsuit, triathlete and any one else who needed to employ an escort boat?
  • @Haydn you crack me up...where are you getting this information?!?! Ya poor pet!


  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    edited January 2013
    jgal wrote:
    And why do assisted swims exist - is it a money thing? I mean, no other 'endurance sport' (to my knowledge) allows somebody to alter the rules so that it works on their terms... you either follow the rules, or you don't.
    Until this thread I hadn't really thought about it much but it is logical that the CSA and CS&PF would support such swims (if not ratify them)

    As I understand it, the English Channel is somewhat special in that in order to get permission to do a crossing at all you pretty much HAVE to be doing it through one of the two organizations.

    Someone who wants to do a wetsuit swim to Catalina is not constrained to do it through the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, so there is no need for the CCSF to support such swims (that said, I actually have no idea if the CCSF supports or not such swims, but the point remains, if they chose not to support them it would not block anyone from attempting such a swim).

    Denying the very opportunity to swim across the channel in wetsuit would seem unfair, so given the duopoly that exists it is good that the organizations choose to support the alternate crossings.

    Now what those folk participating in alternate crossings choose to call themselves is a whole other ball of wax.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • Not meaning to misrepresent them and I was unaware they did not ratify assisted swims. I thought all swims, all crossings, and any eccentric method was logged. That is why we get back to the original post, these successful (even if not ratified) swims/crossings , claim they are channel swimmers and often maintain that stance even though they wore a wetsuit or used fins.

    I would say very clearly, I support 100 per cent any crossing and often these are exceptional . Wetsuit swimmers doing the Arch to Arc, disabled swimmers and even those who still want to face their channel attempt but would otherwise not even try (but for the CS&PF ). Goodness, even my next swim in Sept (which I am still afraid to make public) may be frowned upon, and that bothers me, because I would not like my next swim / crossing / attempt to be undermined by people not accepting it.
  • firebahfirebah Charter Member
    edited January 2013
    @Haydn, Recently the integrity of CSA has been called out by Morty Berger who no longer accepts CSA EC crossings as automatic qualifiers for MIMS. He had very good and sound reasons for his decision and knows it is controversial but felt it necessary.
    I did my EC crossing under CSA. Both organizations have people who if were removed would make the organizations so much more credible.

    @dc_in_sf - the CCSF does not place observers on boats if the swimmer uses a wetsuit.

    Of course a discussion on CSA and CS&PF is really not the issue that Jgal brought to the table in the first place but has become a tangent off of the original topic. This discussion began because there are those among us who will skew the truth for publicity.
  • Hi jgal , what info cracks you up? A friend of mine was not allowed to wakeboard across because he planned wake boarding on an ironing board. It just seems simpler to me to have the CSA ratify traditional swimmers only, therefore retaining integrity and the CS&PF ratifying as many versions as they seek.

    However, what constitutes allowing a person to refer to themselves as a Channel Swimmer (the original question), has to be accepted as correct, as long as one of the governing bodies has ratified it. That is why we have governing bodies.
  • firebahfirebah Charter Member
    @Haydn: can you please show me the ratification of this swim by CS&PF as I have not found it.
  • mrfinbarrmrfinbarr Charter Member
    @Hadyn your information regarding the CSA & the CSPF is totally incorrect! The CSPF does not ratify any swims other than those cmpleted under the traditional rules of channel swimming (theirs are quite similar to those of the CSA). The Channel Crossing Association is another totally different organisation, I suggest google is your friend: http://www.louisejane.net/www.louisejane.net/info.php?p=5. the pilots of both the CSA & the CSPF can organise crossings of a nature other than traditional channel swimming but this is coordinated through the CSA and the CSPF. They will not give you a certificate for this type of crossing.

    If you think the CSA should be the only body certifying swims and the CSPF should certify other such channel crossings, you are of course entitled to think that but it does not reflect reality.

    With regards the lady in the original story, let her call herself whatever she wants as long as she is happy - its largely totally out of my control. I don't go around telling people I'm a channel swimmer; but if somebody feels the need to lie about it for their ego let them off.
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    I'm extremely proud of the fact that I am a Channel swimmer. My swim was exactly six months ago today with the CS&PF. I'm disturbed at the thought that anybody would even suggest that I cannot call myself a Channel swimmer because I swam with the CS&PF!

    I really don't understand that or why anyone would want to belittle my achievement (and that of all the swimmers on the ratified CS&PF list). Anyway, I know that I swam the Channel under strict Channel rules and that knowledge will stay with me forever, so I don't care what anyone thinks!

    In my opinion, the CS&PF were professional from start to finish and I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them as an organisation.

    Some of my very best friends are CSA swimmers and I have no grudges against the CSA either.

    Back to the original topic, I agree with @jgal's sentiments though.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I removed the poll at 4:1. Nothing of value was to be gained from it, we already have the numbers from Julian's database anyway.


  • I really don't mean to belittle anyone's version of swimming the channel. I am afraid I have though . It's just that back in the day, there was only the CSA and only traditional swims were allowed. Then other people set up governing bodies and now everything is wooly . And it seems the CSA has been obliged to also accept assisted swimmers.

    Of course, 20 years ago things were different with far fewer swimmers. The great thing about the CS&PF is they have expanded the volume of swimmers by accepting any of those that would have otherwise been rejected by CSA.

    Maybe I am stuck in the past. But I am unsettled by the thought of the pilots sharing out maybe 40 swimmers between them and getting a few each. Then someone has the idea that if they can take wetsuit swimmers and other crossings, they could earn 20 crossings a year rather than 5. The CSA hate the idea, a split is created and people leave the CSA to form their own version .

    Had this split not happened, many great swims as loneswimmer points out, would never have occurred. Therefore the splinter group have done a great service in availing the Channel to a far greater audience. But also has been the primary factor for facilitating an easier way to get across.

    Before around 1995 if someone said they swam the channel, we all knew what that meant. Now, we have to be more explicit or more questioning. Especially where the swimmer did it the modern way, but misses out mentioning the wetsuit bit.

    Weighing it all up, the CS&PF have done the sport a great favour.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    edited January 2013
    Haydn wrote:
    20 years ago he would have been forbidden. That is not a pathetic argument.
    It seems unlikely that wetsuit or assisted crossings of the channel originated with the formation of the CS&PF.

    Does anyone know when the CSA and CS&PF become the only organizations that the various regulatory agencies would deal with?

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • Mid 1990s. Before that your application to swim had to be passed to the authorities , (passport control) etc , they would only accept swim requests only if the CSA were sanctioning the swim. The CSA would only sanction traditional swims, so wetsuit swimmers etc would never get their request to swim heard. History shows one guy not getting sanctioned, who decided to swim anyway, without an escort. They found him some time later washed up in Belgium I believe.
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited January 2013
    dc_in_sf wrote:
    Does anyone know when the CSA and CS&PF become the only organizations that the various regulatory agencies would deal with?

    If one looks at the details, the UK abdicate to the French, and the French abdicate to the UK. For example [1], here is the UK abdicating to the French:

    "Except for the CS&PF and the CSA, the Maritime Prefect of the Channel and the North Sea [2] expressly forbids swimming and associated activity of an unorthodox nature within the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme, and within French territorial waters. The sole events excluded from the prohibition are those Cross Channel swimming attempts organised and approved by the CS&PF and the CSA. More information can be found on the MCA website at this link."

    That is a quote from a UK website, and it talks about the French. The square bracketed link is mine, whereas the 'More information' link is the UK's.

    For reference, the expression in French for swimming the channel is, for example [3] Quelqu'un a traversé la manche à la nage l'année dernière, n'est-ce pas?

    The British Maritime and Coastguard Agency [4] states that the French allow only those swim attempts "organized and approved" those two SA's [5]. The UK MCA cites the French document No 14/93 [6] for this, but 14/93 does not mention either SA nor swimming in itself.

    The French document No 15/93 [7] is not cited by the UK. 15/93 does mention swimming, but does not mention either SA. It is in Article 2 in 15/93 that the French abdicate to the UK.

    Searching premar-manche.gouv.fr for the name of either SA does not return any pertinent results. Here is an example search for CSA: link

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    edited January 2013
    KarenT wrote:
    Isn't there a risk of taking this too seriously? She did a swim of some description and got some PR in a TV puff piece and a couple of fluffy, superficial diet-obsessed magazines designed to make women hate their bodies. It seems to me that the sport of Channel swimming can rest easily tonight. I'm more concerned by the fact that her dog has a sweater on - clothes on animals gives me the creeps.
    Well said @KarenT
    I’m more concerned that there are channel swimmers out there that will continue to imply that the CS&PF isn’t clear in reporting the results and conditions by which crossings were completed. To those of us to whom this information matters to, it is quite readily available. To say otherwise = epic fail

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • I know David, and it's me you are talking about. But I am not doubting the swimmers or trying to belittle anyone's swim whether assisted or not.

    I am trying to make a point that because the CS&PF started to take wetsuit swimmers, nobody knows (without looking into their results page) how any swimmer got across. So, when a swimmer says they have swam the Channel , and that is all they say, we are none the wiser.

    The bit that I have mentioned that upsets people is because they take it as an implication somehow their swim was less worthy. This is not the case but serves only to highlight the problem posed by the OP.

    If you have swam with the CS&PF and say you have swam the Channel, because you chose them, and mostly because of their wetsuit policy, in order to let people know you were a traditional swimmer, you have to say you swam in speedos.

    The problem never occurred when there was just the CSA.

    Swimmers that swim a traditional and ratified swim should be the only ones 'allowed' to use the phrase 'Channel Swimmer''. Others should use the phrase 'Assisted Channel Swimmer' or 'Relay Channel Swimmer' and these or similar phrases should be added to the rules of the governing bodies.

    And I really do apologise to Zoe and others for upsetting you, it was not my aim to do so.
  • Nickthefish11Nickthefish11 Charter Member
    Afternoon All,

    I am a 'lurker' on this forum, and haven't post before. Haydn has 'inspired' me to put fingers to keyboard.

    This thread has obviously gone far wider than should someone who swam the EC in more than a costume be misleading (by wilfull omission) the press. We've seen it before, and we'll see it again!

    The CSA vs CS&PF debate comes up again and again too. What is most annoying/boring is people banding around incorrect information. Basically, there are two bodies that are allowed by the authorities to escort swimmers across. There are differences between the organisations, and swimmers should do their research and decide who to go with. Swim successfully (properly attired) by either and you can call yourself an EC swimmer.

    The CSA were the first to escort wetsuit swimmers, and started doing so in 2001. One notable swim/swimmer was Eddie Ette doing the swim part of his A2A. The CSA sent an observer on this swim.

    There is a very good open letter from a well respected swimmer, Duncan Heenan, about this time in the CSA and the antics that went on, well worth a read:

    The creation of the CS&PF was not a result of wetsuit swims. It was not so that some pilots could 'split off' and pilot more swims! In my opinion a bit of competition is a good thing, as unchecked the CSA would, and were, ramping up the costs SIGNIFICANTLY!

    Haydn is right that the sport has changed massively over the years. I have been a Channel Swimmer for 21 years now, and have seen a lot of very boring politics in my time. I was there for the creation of the CS&PF. I have seen some truly reprehensible things done by some really rather nasty and conniving people, but there is little point going on about the past, we are in the present and should just get on with things, and make the future of our sport better.

    This is a really sensitive topic for discussion, and if we stay on it, it will get nasty and help nobody. I am happy to give anyone the facts if they ask me for them off the forum. If you weren't there, and don't know the facts, don't talk crap!

    Big love
    [CS&PF President]
  • owenswims93owenswims93 Fermoy, IrelandMember
    Thanks for coming in and making some sense, @Nickthefish11! I've read the linked letter – fascination stuff... It just shows what happens when people are only out for themselves and not the sport.

    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Thanks Prez!


  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 2013
    For what it's worth, here is a count of the members of the CS&PF and CSA leaderships who are also members of the Marathon Swimmers Forum:

    CS&PF: 2
    CSA: 0
  • firebahfirebah Charter Member
    Haydn, there is a huge problem or two with CSA in 2013. First and most importantly if you swim the EC under CSA it will not be an automatic qualifier for MIMS. Of course this is only an issue if you plan to swim MIMS after the EC. An EC swim under CS&PF is an automatic qualifier. The reason for this decision in a nutshell is because the folks at MIMS believes CSA has a person on their board that cannot be trusted and therefore feels the organization has lost credibility. When a person constantly claims something that is not true such as Brittany or in the case of CSA, Julie Bradshaw it is a problem. Claiming a world record when one does not exist is similar to claiming to have swum the EC but failing to make it clear you were assisted by a wetsuit and fins. The other issue I have heard repeatedly when it comes to CSA is the blatant advertising on their website and in any correspondence for Julie's private, personal (not CSA) swim training program.
    What is my point? The issue of CSA vs CS&PF is simply not relevant in 2013 - it is old news. Many who sign up today to swim the EC have no idea there was this giant split years ago. I swam with CSA but wold tell anyone planning to swim to try and book with CS&PF because right now today they have more to offer the swimmer and we all like to get as much bang for our buck as possible.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    To be honest, any organization that allows jammers gets my vote :)

    Budgie smugglers are just not a good look for me...

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • HaydnHaydn Member
    edited January 2013
    Well,that well and truly told me off. Duncans letter explains an awful lot, and I expect we would mostly agree with him. What is clear from his point of view is the anathema introduction of wetsuit and assisted swims within the CSA, and if the CSA were not allowed to do so, the CCA would. Such an outcome would have retained integrity for the CSA and could have been perfect as traditional swimmers would have one organisation for them and another for assisted swimmers. Now, we have break away 3 organisations , and they all allow assisted swims.

    This is why there is now concern that assisted swimmers, succeed with their swims, but some allow their success to appear as a traditional success.

    This thread has been thought provoking and I still believe the benefits of these assisted swimmers being brought under the umbrella is preferable and expands the business of Channel Swimming and brings it to hundreds more people. So many more now have the chance to pursue (perhaps an easier dream).

    It remains for all swimmers to have the integrity to be more forthcoming in the way they have swam. Categories of 'Channel Swimmer' 'Assisted Channel Swimmer' 'Relay Channel Swimmer' seems to solve the issue quite neatly.

    And so, I apologise finally for speaking my view and being a little lazy in not researching it more thoroughly. I would defend myself by suggesting this thread has caused some interest and if we were all together discussing this at a swim camp, none of us would stay silent for a couple hours while researching the points on our ipads first. We would have a lively discussion.
  • jgaljgal Member
    edited January 2013
    I agree with you @Haydn. Well said and spot on. It's actually a very good solution, as I do not think all swims that weren't within the rules, or weren't a solo, should automatically be dismissed as irrelevant or not worthy...they should simply be categorized for what they are: solos, relays, assisted, 2way solo, 3way solo...etc.

    I am a proud Round Jersey Relay swimmer, as well as a proud 2way English Channel Relay swimmer. They are accomplishments in their own right, and I learned a ton on my respective teams. So long as we are honest about our endeavours, the sport remains pure.

    I like this forum because we all have opinions, but can all learn a thing or two from other perspectives.

    I wish you great luck this summer in your attempt!
  • firebahfirebah Charter Member
    I don't have a problem with relays writing on the walls of the White Horse except for ones that take up about 4 feet of space (-: I really dislike the wall hogs!
  • I met up with Kevin Murphy today. I must say I am getting quite fond of the CS&PF.
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    Haydn wrote:
    I met up with Kevin Murphy today. I must say I am getting quite fond of the CS&PF.
    Good to meet you today Haydn!
    (I was with Kevin and put 2+2 together afterwards, D'oh - sorry!)

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